Robinson Crusoe Island

Robinson Crusoe Island
Native name:
Isla Robinson Crusoe
Map of Robinson Crusoe Island
Robinson Crusoe Island is located in Chile
Robinson Crusoe Island
Robinson Crusoe Island
Coordinates33°38′29″S 78°50′28″W / 33°38′29″S 78°50′28″W / -33.64139; -78.84111
TypeShield Volcanoes (last eruption in 1835)
ArchipelagoJuan Fernández Islands
Adjacent bodies of waterPacific Ocean
Area47.94 km2 (18.51 sq mi)[1]
Highest elevation915 m (3,002 ft)[1]
Highest pointEl Yunque
ProvinceValparaíso Province
CommuneJuan Fernández Islands
Population843[2] (2012)

Robinson Crusoe Island (Spanish: Isla Róbinson Crusoe pronounced [ˈizla ˈroβinson kɾuˈso]), formerly known as Más a Tierra (Closer to Land),[3] is the second largest of the Juan Fernández Islands, situated 670 km (362 nmi; 416 mi) west of San Antonio, Chile, in the South Pacific Ocean. It is the more populous of the inhabited islands in the archipelago (the other being Alejandro Selkirk Island), with most of that in the town of San Juan Bautista at Cumberland Bay on the island's north coast.[2]

The island was home to the marooned sailor Alexander Selkirk from 1704 to 1709, and is thought to have inspired novelist Daniel Defoe's fictional Robinson Crusoe in his 1719 novel about the character (although the novel is explicitly set in the Caribbean, not in the Juan Fernández Islands).[4] This was just one of several survival stories from the period that Defoe would have been aware of.[5] To reflect the literary lore associated with the island and attract tourists, the Chilean government renamed the place Robinson Crusoe Island in 1966.[3]


Town of San Juan Bautista, on the north coast at Cumberland Bay

Robinson Crusoe Island has a mountainous and undulating terrain, formed by ancient lava flows which have built up from numerous volcanic episodes. The highest point on the island is 915 m (3,002 ft) above sea level at El Yunque. Intense erosion has resulted in the formation of steep valleys and ridges. A narrow peninsula is formed in the southwestern part of the island called Cordón Escarpado. The island of Santa Clara is located just off the southwest coast.[1]

Robinson Crusoe Island lies to the west of the boundary between the Nazca Plate and the South American Plate, and rose from the ocean 3.8 – 4.2 million years ago. A volcanic eruption on the island was reported in 1743 from El Yunque, but this event is uncertain. On 20 February 1835, a day-long eruption began from a submarine vent 1.6 kilometres (1.0 mi) north of Punta Bacalao. The event was quite minor—only a Volcanic Explosivity Index 1 eruption—but it produced explosions and flames that lit up the island, along with tsunamis.[1][citation needed]

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